Posted on March 13th, 2011 by Phuong
When I was growing up, one of the chores my dad assigned us four kids was to keep the front and back lawn evenly watered and emerald green. My dad never installed an automatic sprinkler system, let alone put a timer on it. Why would he need to? He had four perfectly capable children whom he could assign to hand-water the lawn. I remember countless mornings when my siblings and I would take turns going out to water the lawn before the hottest hours of the day descended. We would methodically move the spray nozzle from section to section, making sure to moisten but not over-saturate the grass.
Thank goodness for advances in technology. My dad was trying to be efficient with his water use — i.e., watering in the morning so as not to lose too much to evaporation; avoiding excessive run-off by not watering too much — but smart irrigation technology has made the whole process so much easier. Much like smart technology that has allowed us to set and control the thermostats in our homes, smart irrigation technology allows us to set how often and how much we water our lawns or landscape beds.
Traditional timers allow you to set a sprinkler system to turn on and off when you want. Smart irrigation technology senses weather changes and adjusts the irrigation accordingly. If it rains, it stops watering. (How many times have you seen sprinkler systems running when it’s raining out? This would certainly put an end to that.) If it’s hotter or the soil is drier than usual, the controller will increase watering. The controllers do all the work, and they are a much more efficient and sophisticated way to reduce outdoor water use. Studies show that weather-based irrigation technology help reduce outdoor water use anywhere from 15 to 30 percent, depending on the type of controller and where it was used. One study involving Denver, Colo. and two locations in California found that average individual homes save between 7 and 25 percent in water. If you’re interested in reading more, the U.S. Bureau of Interior did a literature review of studies involving smart controllers.
Many cities such as Seattle offer rebates for households that install smart irrigation controllers. In Seattle, the rebates range from $50 to $500, depending on what you install and whether it is on a new or existing sprinkler system. A smart controller on a new sprinkler system can net you rebates of between $225 and $375. You have to submit your rebate application within 90 days of installation. Click here to read about an irrigation project we completed in North Seattle using the latest in smart irrigation technology, which qualified the homeowner for a $480 rebate from Seattle Public Utilities.
Rotating spray-head sprinkler nozzles are also a new innovation in irrigation technology (shown above in top photo). They apply water more slowly and evenly than conventional sprinkler nozzles. The nozzles shoot multi-trajectory, rotating streams that apply water more uniformly. The water that shoots out of these rotating nozzles is less likely to mists and more resistant to wind. Applying water slowly allows soil to absorb it without running off into the sidewalks and streets.
Check out this city of Seattle brochure for more information about how to water wisely while keeping your landscape healthy and beautiful.